Pride of the Southland Band

Pride of the Southland Band

bandname=The University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band
school=University of Tennessee
location=Knoxville, TN
director=Dr. Gary Sousa
uniform=Navy blue jacket and pants, black shoes with white spats, white gloves, Tennessee orange overlay with a white T on the back

The Pride of the Southland Band is the official name of the University of Tennessee's marching band.


The Pride of the Southland Marching Band has been performing at halftime for over one hundred years, but has existed since 1869 when it was founded as part of the Military Department. It is one of the oldest collegiate band programs in the country. Its instrumentation in 1883 was entirely made up of cornets. The band continued to grow to between thirteen and seventeen members, and in 1892, it was reorganized under Ernest H. Garratt.

The band wore West Point-style uniforms like the rest of the cadets in the Military Department and had a more varied instrumentation, including a clarinet.

At the turn of the twentieth century, William A. Knabe was appointed as band director. He was the first “full-time” band director; Ernest H. Garratt had also served as an organist, choirmaster, musical director, and director of the Glee Club. UT won the first (documented) game at which the band performed in 1902.

By 1917, the band had changed to World War I style uniforms and doubled in size. The band grew along with the military units on campus. By 1935, the band boasted eighty-five members, but remained all male due to the band’s continued association with the Military Department. In 1937, an all-female contingent called the "Volettes" began performing with the band. Its membership ranged from fifty to ninety.

The 1940s brought women into the band. One of the first women to play with the band was Martha Carroll, who played the lyre, and a marimba player named Marjorie Abbott. By 1946, women outnumbered the male members of the band, due to World War II, and the lack of male students. By 1949, the band was once again all male, but retained female majorettes. Major Walter Ryba was properties master for the Army and Air Force ROTC at Knoxville and also for the Army ROTC at the University of Tennessee-Martin campus. By 1950, the band was already being referred to as “The Pride of the Southland”—a term coined by Knoxville sports writer, Ed Harris.

It was not until 1961 that Tennessee native W. J. Julian was hired as an associate professor and director of the UT bands. Under Julian's leadership the band grew in size, prestige, and reputation. The band was then removed from the ROTC department and placed under the Music Education Department. Julian also designed the band’s signature navy, orange, and creme-colored uniforms, which paid homage to the band’s military past and are still a tradition to this day. Some of the many traditions established under his direction are the pregame formations, opening the T, Rocky Top, and Circle Drill.

Although Julian retired in 1993, the band still upholds the tradition of excellence he set. The "Pride of the Southland" has gained a national reputation for excellence due in part to its many appearances across the nation. Besides representing the State of Tennessee in the last eleven presidential inaugurations, the band has appeared at the many bowl games the Tennessee football team has traveled to throughout the nation.

In March 2007, "The Pride" traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to play at various concerts and in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The current Director of Bands is Dr. Gary Sousa. The Associate Director of Bands is Dr. Donald D. Ryder. The Assistant Director is Dr. Michael Stewart.



[ Tennessee Pregame] The Pride's famous pregame show was designed by Julian with exclusive musical arrangements by Warren Clark and Barry McDonald. This six minute and forty-five second show has remained largely unchanged since the 1960s. It begins with a "Tennessee Waltz" variation in common time, followed by, starting in the 2007 season, a march version of "Tennessee River", then the "Alma Mater March". As they march back playing the Alma Mater march they pay tribute to the greatest football fans in the country by spelling out VOLS. Then in the spirit of sportsmanship the visiting team's fight song is played in the direction of the opposing team's band and student section. After this, the band forms the traditional floating "U" and "T" and marches this across the majority of the field accompanied by "Rocky Top". The pregame show continues to build in excitement as the "Power T" is formed and all the Vols fans are asked to join in the Volunteer Wave and the crowd spells out "V-O-L-S" and chant "Go Vols Go!" Then the Pride of the Southland's Drum Major runs through the middle of this formation. The band then marches across the field until it reaches the opposite end zone. At this point, "Stars and Stripes Forever" is played and the band forms a large "USA" to the visiting sideline, then inverts the form to face the front sideline.

Pregame reaches its most thrilling point with the "Opening of the T" where the football team runs through a block T on to the field and to their sideline. This is one of the most photographed moments in college football and one of the greatest traditions of the "Pride", Tennessee football, and the University of Tennessee.

Although the T formation is used almost exclusively at Tennessee home games in Neyland Stadium, it has been done at other venues, most notably at the 1986 and 1991 Sugar Bowl.

Rocky Top

[ Rocky Top]
Vol fans can also thank Julian, via Walter McDaniel, for introducing "Rocky Top" in a halftime show in 1972, after which it made its way to the stands. The football crowd loved the tune and its words; the more the band played it, the more people wanted it. It has now become one of the University's best-known traditions and one of the band's most famous songs.
Its popularity also extends far beyond the campus of the University of Tennessee; "Rocky Top" became one of the Tennessee state songs in 1982. To acknowledge the impact that UT and the "Pride" had on their careers, when writers Felice and Boudleaux Bryant were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986, Julian was invited.
Contrary to popular belief, "Rocky Top" is not Tennessee's official fight song, although it is so closely identified with the university that many believe this to be the case. Tennessee's official fight song is "Down the Field". It is quite common for the band to end playing Rocky Top and the crowd to continue singing the chorus into the next play.

Circle Drill

[ Tennessee Circle Drill] With the ingenuity in visual design of undergraduate trombone player Ken Landgren, Julian also introduced the revolutionary Circle, Flower, and Star marching drills to Tennessee and the world in half time shows. These drills are among the most difficult drills ever created and performed. New drills were written each year to form a unique show until the most difficult maneuvers were combined with music into one show by former drum major and graduate student, and former Assistant Director John T. Martin. The music of the show is intended to take the audience on a tour of Tennessee, from Memphis to Chattanooga to Nashville and ending in Knoxville. The music includes arrangements of "C.C. Rider", "Chattanooga Choo-Choo", "Will the Circle Be Unbroken", and "Rocky Top". The Tennessee Circle Drill was born, and continues to be performed as a great tradition of the "Pride". The current Circle Drill show is performed at least three times every year at one of the final home games, at least at one away game, and a bowl game. Typically, it is also performed at a few road games. The Tennessee Circle Drill has been televised on several occasions, including the 2005 Cotton Bowl.

pirit of the Hill

The oldest tradition of the Pride of the Southland comes at the end of every home halftime show where the Pride plays Spirit of the Hill and forms an interlocking UT with the year 1794 on the field. This is the longest lasting tradition of the band dating back over one hundred years.

alute to the Hill

[ Salute to "The Hill"]

At every home game, the Pride performs the "March to the Stadium" which includes a parade sequence and climaxes when the Band stops at the bottom of "The Hill" (The oldest section of campus which resides upon the tallest hill right next to Neyland Stadium) and performs the "Salute to The Hill", a homage to the history and legacy of the University.


Down the Field

(Here's to Old Tennessee)
Here's to old Tennessee
Never we'll sever
We pledge our loyalty
Forever and ever
Backing our football team
Faltering never
Cheer and fight with all of your might
For Tennessee.

Fight Vols Fight

Fight, Vols fight with all your might,
For the Orange and White
Never falter, never yield
As we march on down the field
Keep Marching!

Let the Spirit of the Hill
Every Vol with courage fill
Your loyalty means our victory
So fight, Vols, fight!

Alma Mater

On a Hallowed hill in Tennessee
Like Beacon shining bright
The stately walls of old U.T.
Rise glorious to the sight.

So here's to you old Tennessee,
Our Alma Mater true
We pledge in love and harmony
Our loyalty to you.

What torches kindled at that flame
Have passed from hand to hand
What hearts cemented in that name
Bind land to stranger land.

O, ever as we strive to rise
On life's unresting stream
Dear Alma Mater, may our eyes
Be lifted to that gleam.

Rocky Top

Wish that I was on ole rocky top
Down in the Tennessee hills.
Ain't no smoggy smoke on rocky top
Ain't no telephone bills.

Once I had a girl on rocky top
Half bear the other half cat.
Wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop
I still dream about that.

Rocky top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me.
Good ole rocky top
Rocky top Tennessee, rocky top Tennessee.

Once two strangers climbed on rocky top
Lookin' for a moonshine still.
Strangers ain't down back from rocky top
Reckon they never will.

Corn won't grow at all on rocky top
Dirt's too rocky by far.
That's why all the folks on rocky top
Get their corn from a jar.

Rocky top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me.
Good ole rocky top
Rocky top Tennessee, rocky top Tennessee.

I've had years of cramped up city life
Trapped like a duck in a pen.
All I know is it's a pity life
Can't be simple again.

Rocky top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me.
Good ole rocky top
Rocky top Tennessee, rocky top Tennessee, rocky top Tennessee.

External links

* [ Official website of the Tennessee Bands]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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